Shooting that killed 6 at Jewish deli in Jersey City was 'targeted': Officials




  • In US
  • 2019-12-11 17:55:00Z
  • By ABC News
 

Shooting that killed 6 at Jewish deli in Jersey City was 'targeted': Officials originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Security video confirms a police shootout in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a pair of rifle-wielding suspects who allegedly killed a detective and three victims was part of rapid series of crimes that included a deliberate attack on a Jewish deli, authorities said on Wednesday.

Police declined to reveal the names of the three victims killed inside the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket. But Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, a Satmar Hasidic group, said two of the victims killed in the store were Orthodox Jewish and identified them as 33-year-old Mindel Ferencz, a mother of five, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a Yeshiva student.

(MORE: Officer, 3 people dead after massive gun battle breaks out in New Jersey)

Deutsch's father, Moshe Deutsch, is a member of the United Jewish Organization's board of directors, Niederman said in a statement.

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and James Shea, the city's director of public safety, said security footage "clearly" shows the perpetrators, who were shot to death by police after an hours-long gunfight, were out to kill people inside the market.

Fulop and Shea were hesitant to describe the attack as a hate crime, saying learning the motive will be the focus of an investigation conducted by the state attorney general, who has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon.

But a law enforcement official briefed on the probe told ABC News that at least one of the suspects had recently posted anti-Semitic statements online.

The suspects were identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, law enforcement sources told ABC News. Both are believed to be followers of the Black Israelites, a group that espouses hatred toward Jews and is known for anti-government and anti-police sentiments, the sources said.

Authorities are preliminarily investigating the incident as a case of domestic terrorism, according to sources.

Gunfire erupted at the kosher market shortly after Jersey City Det. Joseph Seals, 40, a father of five, was allegedly gunned down by the same suspects at the Bayview Cemetery, located about a mile from the market, sources said. After fatally shooting Seals, a plainclothes undercover detective, the suspects drove directly to the market, sources said.

Fulop and Shea said security cameras captured the suspects arriving at the market and exiting a stolen U-Haul van with rifles blazing.

"After reviewing the CCTV cameras on the Jersey City side, we do feel it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli across the street here," Fulop said on Wednesday morning, standing in front of the attacked establishment. "We could see the [suspects'] van moving through the Jersey City streets slowly, the perpetrators stopped in front of there, calmly open the door with two long rifles, him and the other perpetrator, and began firing from the street into the facility."

(MORE: Anti-Semitic attacks in the US have doubled: ADL )

Shea said the footage shows the gunmen exit the stolen van and immediately opening fire on the market as they stormed through the front door. He said three citizens inside the business were killed and many more could have lost their lives had officers not responded quickly.

"With the amount of ammunition they had, we have to assume they would have continued attacking human beings if we hadn't been there," Shea said.

Two foot-patrol officers were about a block from the deli, he said, and responded as soon as they heard the gunfire. They "heroically placed themselves in the line of fire attempting to give the information and both of them received gunshot wounds," Shea said.

"Having had an opportunity to go through the video overnight, we now know this did not begin with gunfire between police officers and the perpetrators and then move to the store. It began with an attack on civilians in the store," Shea said Wednesday.

The shooting broke out at 4:15 p.m. when the streets of downtown Jersey City were packed with people and nearby schools were still full of students, who were placed on lockdown, according to Shea. During the shootout, at least one bullet pierced a window at the Sacred Heart School across the street from the kosher market, but no one at the school was injured.

"There were multiple other people on the streets so there were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack that place," Shea said. He went on to add, "That was their target and they intended to harm people inside there."

(MORE: The South is the epicenter for officers killed by felony gunfire in 2019, FBI data shows)

Shea said within seconds, more Jersey City police officers responded, pulled their two wounded colleagues out of the line of fire and continued to engage the armed suspects inside the store. Both suspects were killed in the shootout, police said.

In addition to the two other officers wounded in the the shootout, a third was hurt by shrapnel, officials said. The officers were all treated at a hospital and released.

Seals was the department's "leading police officer for removing guns from the street," Chief Kelly said, adding that he was responsible for removing "dozens and dozens" of firearms.

(MORE: Alabama mourns 7th police officer killed in line of duty in 2019)

He is survived by a wife and five children, Mayor Fulop told reporters. He had been with the department since 2006 and was promoted to detective in the last few years.

Investigators have not commented on why Seals confronted the suspects at the cemetery.

Seals had been investigating a homicide that occurred over the weekend and may have been interested in the suspects as part of that probe, according to law enforcement sources.

On Saturday, around 10 p.m., police in nearby Bayonne found a Jersey City man, identified as Michael Rumberger, in the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car. The crime had not been immediately solved.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor, cautioned during an appearance on ABC's "The View" on Wednesday that law enforcement officials have not described the incident as an anti-Semitic act.

"So I think we have to be careful about it. But if it was, then that makes it even more horrific for people to be targeted that way," Christie said. "And then you look at the police officer, Det. Joseph Seals, who was murdered -- he's a married father of five and just shot in the head and killed. It's just an awful, awful thing. We need to pray for this detective's family. Those five children lost their dad."

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